Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, December 31, 2001


BYU's Aaron Francisco, a Kahuku alumnus, tackles UH quarterback Nick Rolovich in Hawaii's 72-45 win earlier this month.

BYU forgets UH,
ready for Louisville

Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. >> The Brigham Young Cougars say thoughts of the BCS and Hawaii are gone, disappointments put away.


The No. 19 Cougars can prove that today against No. 23 Louisville. They have been anxious to play again since that 72-45 loss to Hawaii on Dec. 8, which ruined their perfect season and knocked them out of the top 10.

"We're grateful to be here and to play against these guys," quarterback Brandon Doman said.

Coach Gary Crowton said his Cougars (12-1) knew all along they were coming to Memphis if they won the Mountain West Conference with the automatic berth. But he admits they held hopes for a national championship until BCS officials dropped them from consideration days before their season finale.

That prompted talk of a possible lawsuit, which dissolved when Hawaii routed the Cougars. Crowton said he still doesn't think the BCS decision was right.

"It had nothing to do with which bowl we were going to," he said.

The Cardinals (10-2) sympathize. They had a seven-game winning streak ended with a 37-22 loss to Texas Christian on Nov. 23.

"We all feel completely embarrassed," Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone said. "A lot of us got our egos damaged in Fort Worth. We've got something to prove in Memphis."

Louisville is making its ninth appearance in a bowl, second straight in the Liberty Bowl. But the Cardinals are 0-3 under coach John L. Smith and haven't won a bowl since downing Michigan State 18-7 in the 1993 Liberty Bowl.

Ragone wants to end that.

"I'm sick of ending on a bad note, and waiting 200 days to play Kentucky again. I want to get a win in a bowl game," the junior quarterback said.

This is the 23rd bowl game for BYU, but the first with Crowton as coach. The Cougars haven't had much success lately and have won only three of 13 bowls since their 1984 national title.

They haven't won a bowl since the 1997 Cotton Bowl and are winless in five bowls played east of the Mississippi River.

BYU brings in the most potent offense in school history, a unit that averaged 46.7 points a game and set five offensive records.

The Cougars will be without All-American running back Luke Staley, who ran for 1,596 yards before breaking his leg against Mississippi State.

Doman is expected to play despite broken ribs, and favorite receiver Reno Mahe is questionable after knee surgery. Mahe caught 91 passes for 1,211 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns, but Doman passed to 19 other receivers this season.

A high scoring game is expected. Louisville averaged 30.5 points a game and Ragone ranked 20th nationally in total offense. He completed 60 percent of his passes with only seven interceptions.

Tony Stallings is enough of a threat at running back to give Ragone time to run or throw.

"They're wide open and they throw the ball well," Crowton said. "They're aggressive on defense."

The Cardinals had 41 sacks, led by sophomore Dewayne White with 15, and they gave up 338.5 yards per game.

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